Five Years On

Today in church, we sang a song at the end of mass in memory of what happened five years ago tomorrow, on a bright, sunny day in September. I saw two men (besides myself) wipe tears from their eyes. We still grieve for those we lost and for the pain and anguish of the survivors, and for tremendous waste caused by hatred.

Today there are scars left from the event, but almost all are on our souls. You can barely tell that anything at all happened at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and every day we leave bigger scars on the land then we see in Pennsylvania, and we leave them intentionally, and only for a time, so that our work may progress more efficiently. There is still a hole at the site in New York City where there World Trade Centers once stood, but that’s only because we bicker with ourselves about how best to fill it. Lately, we know that those holes could have been filled with even larger skyscrapers five times over, if we so wanted (the Empire State Building was build in just over one year March 1930 to May 1931, using the technology of the 1920s, after all).

Do you understand how little effect, then, the events of September 11, 2001 had? There are holes. We bicker, not so much about the need to defeat terrorist, but about where to fight them. We argue about timetables and personnel, not about the goals and certainly not about the desired outcome. The economy noticed the loss of $40,000,000,000 in assets, but only the way a body notices a sneeze. The wind (compounded with human incompetence and corruption) caused far more damage.

Yet today, when I saw those men remembering their pain, I realized how different the results could have been. We, America, could have vaporized the cities of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and any other ‘nation’ in the world that did not instantly support us. Hell – we could have vaporized the very mountains in which the evil hid. We can build enough 20 megaton bombs to do that. If we had ever wanted to just take the resources of a country, we could land a cruise missle under the bed of anyone who opposed, and take his silverware in the morning.

We could, if we didn’t care. We could, if we did not believe, however imperfectly, in a Christian tradition.
America did not destroy Afghanistan, but freed it from the oppression of the Mullahs. We did not vaporize Baghdad, but fight the brutality of the terrorist thugs. America does that not because it is small and weak, but because it is great.

That is what we remember.

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